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A Water Poem for Remembering

By Kimberly Blaeser

Yes, it’s true I speak ill of the living
in coded ways divorced from the dead.
Why Lyla June fasts on capitol steps.
Why Native women disappear like rabbits
reappear in rivers wrapped in death scarves.
A leader’s slight of voice a disgrace—
we’ve been magicked before into war.
Why we sing mikwendam—even now
remember. On the coldest day of January
gather near ancestral waters, Michigami
(where the Milwaukee, Menominee,
& Kinnickinnic rivers meet like sisters)
where conical mounds still rise on bluffs
story good pathways—bold and blue as nibi.




Listen as Kimberly Blaeser reads "A Water Poem for Remembering."

Added: Tuesday, March 10, 2020  /  Used with permission.
Kimberly Blaeser
Photo by John Fisher.

Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. She is the author of four poetry collections—most recently Copper Yearning and Apprenticed to Justice; and the editor of Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. A bi-lingual French/English collection of her poetry, Résister en dansee/Dancing Resistance will be published by Éditions des Lisières in 2020. An Indigenous activist and environmentalist from White Earth Reservation, Blaeser is a Professor at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her work has been widely anthologized with selections also translated into Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Hungarian. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic poetry have been featured in various venues including the exhibits “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.” Blaeser lives in the woods and wetlands of Lyons Township, Wisconsin and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness chasing poems, photos, and river otters—sometimes all at once.

Kimberly Blaeser is a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (March 26-28, 2020) in Washington, DC. For more information, visit the Festival web page

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